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Diabetes drug shows potential in treating Parkinson's Disease

Written by | 7 Oct 2017 | All Medical News

Author: Bruce Sylvester
Exenatide, a drug used to treat diabetes, could have disease-modifying potential in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, researchers reported on August 3, 2017 in The Lancet.
They reported that subjects with Parkinson’s who injected themselves each week for a year with exenatide performed better at movement tests than those who injected a placebo.
“This is a very promising finding, as the drug holds potential to affect the course of the disease itself, and not merely the symptoms,” said the study’s senior author, Professor Tom Foltynie of the University College of London (UK) Institute of Neurology. “With existing treatments, we can relieve most of the symptoms for some years, but the disease continues to worsen.”
Between June 18, 2014, and March 13, 2015, the researchers enrolled 62 subjects with moderate Parkinson’s disease. They were randomized to receive subcutaneous injections of exenatide 2 mg (n=32) or placebo (n=31) once weekly for 48 weeks, in addition to their regular medication, followed by a 12-week washout period.
The primary analysis reported in The Lancet included 31 subjects in the exenatide group and 29 patients in the placebo group.
At 60 weeks, off-medication scores on part 3 of the MDS-UPDRS (Movement Disorder Society-sponsored revision of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale) showed 1.0 points improvement in the exenatide group and 2.1 points worsening in the placebo group, a statistically significant difference (p=0·0318).
Injection site reactions and gastrointestinal symptoms were common appeared in both groups.
The authors concluded, “Exenatide had positive effects on practically defined off-medication motor scores in Parkinson’s disease, which were sustained beyond the period of exposure. Whether exenatide affects the underlying disease pathophysiology or simply induces long-lasting symptomatic effects is uncertain. Exenatide represents a major new avenue for investigation in Parkinson’s disease, and effects on everyday symptoms should be examined in longer-term trials.”

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